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North Korea Ready for War; Interview with Representative Brendan Boyle; Search for Man Who Sent Trump Anti-Government Manifesto; Democrat See Georgia House Race as Opportunity; Trump Holds Policy Discussion With CEOs; Aired 10:30-11a ET

Aired April 11, 2017 - 10:30   ET


[10:30:00] POPPY HARLOW, CNN ANCHOR: Lashing out at the United States warning it will hold the U.S. fully accountable.

JOHN BERMAN, CNN ANCHOR: Yes, this comes after the U.S. decision to deploy a carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula. North Korea now says it is ready to defend itself against what it calls reckless acts of aggression.

We want to bring in CNN's Will Ripley. He is the only American journalist in Pyongyang, in North Korea right now.

Talk about the North Korean reaction and these new tweets we're seeing from the president of the United States -- Will.

WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I want to show you, John, some brand- new video that has just come in moments ago. These are images of North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, today at their major political gathering known as the Supreme People's Assembly.

Now we're still disseminating all of the things that were discussed. And there will be more information coming out tomorrow morning here in Pyongyang local time and it's already 11:00 in the evening here. But we know that these are the people, these are the ruling elite of the country who talk about things like North Korea's nuclear program and their missile program, the exact kind of thing that President Trump has been tweeting about.

And I believe we do have those tweets for you on the screen here, although I do not have them in front of me because we have been taking lots of notes. So you can read what he said. The gist of it was in the first tweet, talking about North Korea, saying that, "North Korea is looking for trouble and that if China is not willing to step in and help, then the U.S. will do it on its own. USA."

And then the second tweet was focused more on China itself, talking about the economic relationship that there'd be a better trade deal with China if -- with the United States if China did something about North Korea. But of course, many China watchers say that the North Korea issue doesn't have to do with the economy for China, it has do with a buffer zone between U.S. allied South Korea and their own border, which is why China continues to trade with the North Korean regime, even though they do not want nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. They don't want American nuclear weapon and they don't want North Korean nuclear weapons either.

All of this unfolding as analysts believe North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could push the button on a sixth nuclear test at pretty much any moment. And there's a major national holiday coming up here in Pyongyang just in a matter of days, on Saturday, the Day of the Sun, celebrating the birthday of his grandfather, who you probably saw. He's one of the two huge images behind the North Korean leader, Kim Il-sung, on the left, Kim Jong-un's father, Kim Jong-il on the right in the center, the third generation leader who has absolute power over this country's nuclear program.

And right now the world has no idea what he is going to do and how he's going to respond, not only to the tweets from President Trump, but also from the fact that the U.S. is deploying the carrier strike group, Carl Vinson. It should be arriving in the waters off of the Korean peninsula getting get back into place. It's been in the region many times before. But it just goes to show how tensions in this part of the world are really escalating right now -- John and Poppy.

HARLOW: Absolutely. Will Ripley, thank you for the reporting. Again, the only American journalist inside of Pyongyang.

Representative Brendan Boyle is with us. He is a Democrat from Pennsylvania and a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

And I do want to get your take on Russia and all of the developments this morning having to do with Russia, the harsh words from the Secretary of State Rex Tillerson against Russia, calling them either complicit or incompetent when it comes to that chemical attack. And then you also have Tillerson's justification, Congressman, for the airstrikes saying you don't want the chemical weapons to spread to ISIS, to terrorists, and you don't want the normalization of those.

What do you make of those justifications for the airstrikes? Are they enough for you?

REP. BRENDAN BOYLE (D), PENNSYLVANIA: Yes. Well, great being with you. First of all, I think that it is quite self-evident that since 2013 Russia has failed in its commitment to remove all of the chemical weapons from Syria. We sadly saw the evidence of that a couple of weeks ago or just a week ago now on videotape. It's not terribly surprising. It's not as if Vladimir Putin and his regime is trustable in any way.

The difficulty that I have as a member of the Foreign Affairs Committee is trying to figure out exactly what this administration's policy is toward Syria and toward the region. If you watch the Sunday morning shows, Secretary of State Tillerson has one opinion. The secretary -- the ambassador, rather, to the U.N., Nikki Haley, has another view. And then Sean Spicer has a third.

And in all of that we have no idea what President Trump actually thinks as he tends to make it up day by day. So it's about time that the administration and for that matter Congress come together and get on one page and have a defined Syria policy. And here's why that's important. We are commemorating the 100th

anniversary of the U.S. entry into World War I. We slept walked our way into what was then called the Great World War. We do not want to sleepwalk our way into a larger war with Iran, Russia, et cetera. Yes.

[10:35:05] BERMAN: Congressman, let me just ask you. You say you want to hear a coherent policy from the administration. What's yours? I know you're a congressman, but you're on the Foreign Affairs Committee, it's not your job to set U.S. policy, but lay out what you think a coherent strategy would be in Syria.

BOYLE: Well, as you pointed out, I'm neither president nor secretary of State, but I happen to believe in this admittedly very difficult situation, if we don't remove Assad, which at this point becomes more a lot more challenging than it would have been four years ago, I think at the very least working with our allies in the region such as Jordan to establish safe zones, to make sure we stem the tide of refugees that are flowing into Europe.

Keep in mind, Syria has 12 million refugees, the majority of the country's population. That has been enormously destabilizing. You have -- not only have we seen the effect in Europe but also in Jordan and in Turkey. So I do think going to actually a position that Bob Gates and Hillary Clinton argued for four years ago would today be the best thing we could do.

HARLOW: Congressman, when it comes to the discussions over the removal of Assad or not, do you believe that this -- you know, the United States and this administration should take a page, learn a lesson from the Obama administration, from the situation in Libya? Is there a warning sign? A red flag there?

BOYLE: Well, in Libya, you have a situation where we pursued regime change, did nothing on the ground, and everything went to chaos. Of course we have a situation in Iraq where we also pursued regime change. We're down in a, you know, heavy sort of presence. And both situations turned out poorly. So any time we attempt to topple a leader, it does have unintended, sometimes disastrous consequences.

BERMAN: Congressman --

BOYLE: I think in the immediate term we should focus on the safe zones.

BERMAN: Congressman, I want to change subjects, if I can, and talk about what happened with United Airlines, and the forcible removal of a passenger yesterday from Chicago to Louisville. You tweeted, "I will not fly United anymore. Further, it's time for government to investigate the repeated abuses towards passengers." So what made you so angry about this, Congressman?

BOYLE: Yes. Well, first of all, the -- boy, that is quite the segue, too, from Assad to United Airlines.

BERMAN: I know. I know. BOYLE: But, I have to say, that video is shocking. And specifically

-- and also United's reaction, blaming the passenger for the incident is bizarre. And recently we've had a few different incidents, all involving United Airlines, where 15-year-old girls were not allowed on flights because of leggings, another 15-year-old girl was sexually assaulted twice, and United Airlines wouldn't do anything to help her. And then later did a statement in which they blamed the girl for the shorts she was wearing.

So, you know, I get the impression that unfortunately some airlines think that once U.S. citizens get on their plane, they suddenly lose their rights as citizens. So I do believe it's appropriate for the Department of Transportation to review this and make sure that our rights as citizens are retained once we step on to an airplane.

HARLOW: We should note it was the Chicago authorities that were the ones --

BERMAN: Right.

HARLOW: Not United that dragged him off the plane, but I hear you.

Congressman, thank you.

BOYLE: Yes. Yes. But it was -- it was United that then did the statement defending that sort of despicable behavior.

HARLOW: Yes. Yes. It was. Thank you very much.

BOYLE: All right. Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks so much, Congressman.

Police right now looking for this man. He allegedly robbed a gun store, mailed a manifesto to the president of the United States, and has been on the run for more than a week. How police are hoping the suspect's tattoos will help find him.


[10:43:10] HARLOW: So this morning a manhunt is growing for a suspect accused of robbing a gun shop and then sending a 161-page anti- government manifesto to President Trump on the same day. Police say Joseph Jakubowski has been on the run for a full week. He's been on the run since April 4th when he's believed to have stolen a number of handguns and rifles and the suspect's car was found burning on a nearby street.

BERMAN: Yes. Police are releasing new pictures now of the suspect's tattoos hoping they will help track him down.

CNN national correspondent Ryan Young joins us now from Wisconsin for the very latest.

Ryan, what are you learning? RYAN YOUNG, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, you know, these

searches are pretty important. More than 170 officers so far looking for this man.

I want to point back to this direction because, as we arrived yesterday, we saw police centered around that shed back there. They were actually looking for evidence. We did see them collect bags. But you did talk about those tattoos so we'll show them to you. Just last night they released these pictures showing the suspect's tattoos.

What we were told by the people in this area, they are hoping, especially investigators, that someone out there will notice the man's tattoos because he has been on the run for a week and they will call police because obviously they consider him armed and dangerous with all the long rifles that he was able to steal.

We just talked to authorities about how much they want the public's help in catching this man.


SHERIFF ROBERT SPOODEN, ROCK COUNTY, WISCONSIN: Obviously when you read the document that he sent to the White House, he has a strong dislike or hatred towards government officials, both local and federal and state level. So we're concerned that, you know, if his end game is to inflict casualties, then he may go some place where there are going to be a large number of people. So we have tried to increase our security at areas such as the courthouse, you know, school events, things such as that, where there would be an opportunity for him to inflict a lot of damage.


[10:45:09] YOUNG: Now, guys, more than 500 tips have come in so far, but this is the thing. They said as long as that manifesto was, they believe he put a lot of thought into this. We were talking to neighbors yesterday. They of course were surprised by the idea that this man could do this.

Now when you're watching the video, he's obviously walking and talking about what he's doing, someone else was shooting that video. So we talked and figured out from police if they've been able to find that man and they believe he didn't even think the suspect was that serious about this. But obviously when we stopped by the suspect's house last night and talked to his stepfather, he was saying, look, no one has gotten hurt just yet, please just come in before this gets worse.

You can understand those feelings, especially in a small town like this one with a man running around with 16 guns as police are reporting.

BERMAN: Ryan Young for us in Janesville, Wisconsin. Ryan, thanks so much. Disturbing to say the least.

All right. It is Election Day in America, believe it or not. Why congressional races that begin today could be the canary in the coal mine for identifying how the president is doing in this country and how he might do in elections going forward.


[10:50:08] BERMAN: All right. This morning President Trump is in campaign mode.


BERMAN: He wrote, "Ron Estes is running today for Congress in the great state of Kansas. A wonderful guy. I need his help on healthcare and tax cuts."

So there's a special election for a seat in Kansas today. And that's a state, Kansas is, that the president won by 27 points. But all of a sudden Republicans have been dumping money and resources into that right race, scared it could flip blue.

HARLOW: And this is ahead of a special election in the typically pretty red state of Georgia. There Democrats are seizing on protests against the president and hoping a first-time candidate can win a seat that Republicans have held for 40 years.

Jason Carroll reports.


JON OSSOFF (D), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA'S 6TH DISTRICT: I'm proud of the momentum we've been able to build.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Meet Democrat Jon Ossoff, at 30 years old, the former congressional aide and documentary filmmaker, has never held public office but he has become the candidate to beat.

OSSOFF: This thing has taken on a little bit of life of its own. And people are watching across the country because it is the first competitive contest of this new era.

CARROLL: Traditionally voters here in the 6th District, which includes part of Atlanta and the city's affluent northern suburbs has sent to Congress the likes of Newt Gingrich and most recently Tom Price, who is now Health and Human Services secretary. It was thought that one of the 11 Republicans running in this special election would claim the seat until Ossoff turned the race into a referendum on President Trump.

OSSOFF: I want to go to Washington and hold people accountable. And that includes the president of the United States.

CARROLL: Trump carried the district by a little more than a point last November. In 2012 Mitt Romney swept it by more than 20 points.

OSSOFF: I think spring has sprung.

CARROLL: Ossoff hoping to tap into angst among Democrats over Trump has been running ads critical of the president. OSSOFF: But we can't let Donald Trump put us at risk?

CARROLL (on camera): How effective do you think that has been for you so far?

OSSOFF: There are clearly people who have serious concerns about the president's approach to governance.

CARROLL (voice-over): GOP candidate Bob Gray isn't afraid to embrace the president, hiring several of Trump's former state operatives to help his campaign.

BOB GRAY (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA'S 6TH DISTRICT: It's pretty clear that this is a district that's getting behind our president.

CARROLL: While former Georgia secretary of state, Karen Handel, and former state senator Dan Moody question if the district is truly on the verge of turning blue.

KAREN HANDEL (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA'S 6TH DISTRICT: They're dreaming about this but the Republicans are going to hold on to this seat.

DAN MOODY (R), CONGRESSIONAL CANDIDATE FOR GEORGIA'S 6TH DISTRICT: The Republicans will ultimately select a candidate that can beat the Democrat.

CARROLL: Claire Wise has not decided on a candidate, but --

CLAIRE WISE, VOTER: It will be a Republican candidate. I think Jon Ossoff is too liberal.

CHERYL SYKES, JON OSSOFF SUPPORTER: We are so excited you're here.

CARROLL: Cheryl Sykes, also a registered Republican, disagrees. She's backing Ossoff.

SYKES: I think he is dedicated. And I really feel like we need more balance and more middle of the road people in Washington.

CARROLL: And Dave Ferguson, a self-described independent, summed up his reasoning for supporting Ossoff.


CARROLL: Ossoff has raised more than $8 million and has $2 million in the bank. His momentum not lost on Republicans who've added staff and ratcheted up their attacks.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ossoff wasn't exactly fighting against terrorism. He was fighting against restrictions on keg parties.

CARROLL: Ossoff's goal for the April 18th primary is to get more than 50 percent of the vote to avoid a June runoff.

(On camera): Do you feel any sort of sense of extra pressure?

OSSOFF: Yes, I do feel it. You know, I'm human, too. And there's a lot of eyes on the race. There's a lot of people I want to make proud.

CARROLL (voice-over): Jason Carroll, CNN, Roswell, Georgia.


HARLOW: Fascinating look. We'll see the results next week.

This morning, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson telling Russia you choose, either you're with us or you're with Assad.

Coming up right here, you're going to hear from Senator Lindsey Graham. He sits down with Kate Bolduan in just a minute. We'll be right back.


[10:58:19] HARLOW: So the billionaire talked to billionaires today, right now. At the White House actually the president is meeting with 17 big-named CEOs at the White House.

CNN Money's Cristina Alesci is here with more. Who is there and why is this different than some of the other CEO meetings he's had?

CRISTINA ALESCI, CNN MONEY CORRESPONDENT: So this group is supposed to act as a formal advisory group. Right? Actually not a formal advisory, an informal advisory group that gives advice is essentially what it is. And it was assembled by the CEO of Blackstone, who is an asset manager, private equity, hedge fund, and he basically went out and asked all of these CEOs from various industries to join on and provide a sort of brain trust of industry titans, who can help Trump dissect some of the very complicated policy matters that he's going to have to tackle like tax, trade, immigration, women at work, all of these things are going to be discussed in these smaller settings.

And what I'm hearing is that it's more of a listening session for Trump. He just sits back and kind of gets information, data points, so that it can help him determine what policies to pursue and what order of prioritization. But I can guarantee you that tax reform is on top of the agenda today. Most of the CEOs are wondering why did the Treasury secretary say we'd get tax reform within a year's time, which is super aggressive.

HARLOW: It's interesting, the president's tweet this morning on tax reform said tax cuts, parenthesis reform. Because cuts are way easier than reform.

BERMAN: Look, actually, 200 days, this White House likes to show the president as a businessman whenever it can.

HARLOW: Of course. It's how he won.

BERMAN: So it may be for the picture they're doing. Cristina Alesci, great to have you with us.

HARLOW: Thank you.

BERMAN: Thanks so much. I'm John Berman.

HARLOW: I'm Poppy Harlow. "AT THIS HOUR" with Kate Bolduan begins right now.

KATE BOLDUAN, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Kate Bolduan.